Green Watch

The Sequoia Climate Foundation: Following Fred’s Money

The Sequoia Climate Foundation and America’s Secretive Climate Colonialist (full series)
The “Secretive U.S. Vulture Fund” | Following Fred’s Money
Funding of Anti-Energy Radicals | Climate Colonialism

Following Fred’s Money

In February 2023 a spokesperson for the Sequoia Climate Foundation told Inside Philanthropy that Sequoia was “spun out” of the Wellspring Philanthropic Fund. Wellspring is one of the original TGS-linked mystery funds revealed in the 2014 Bloomberg report.

Citing the opinion of a San Francisco–based lawyer who worked in the nonprofit field, Bloomberg reported in 2014 that Wellspring’s practice of “using intermediaries to disguise a private foundation’s backers is extremely unusual” and “contrary to the spirit, though probably not the letter, of the private-foundation rules.”

Wellspring was originally named the Matan B’Seter Foundation in its first tax filing back in 2001. The Hebrew phrase means “anonymous gift.”

The most recent IRS filing for 2022 shows John R. Taylor as the president of the Wellspring board, with W. Miles Taylor and Fred Taylor as board trustees. The 2014 Bloomberg report identified the three men as brothers.

An entity named Twenty-One Holdings LLC of Roseland, New Jersey, appears to be the corporate vehicle used to move money into the donor foundations.

Twenty-One was listed as a major donor to Wellspring in each of six consecutive IRS filings covering 2015 through 2020. The average annual donation into Wellspring from Twenty-One was well over $100 million, culminating with a $179.1 million donation in 2020.

This pattern abruptly ended in 2021, and neither that year nor the Wellspring filing for 2022 show new contributions from Twenty-One Holdings.

But those two later years coincided with the first two annual IRS filings from Sequoia, both of which showed Twenty-One Holdings money coming in. The first two Sequoia filings reported a $181 million donation from Twenty-One Holdings for 2021 and another $206 million for 2022. Both represent all of the new money reported coming into the fund.

Sequoia also appears to have inherited the funding of climate policy groups that previously received grants from Wellspring.

For example, the Sierra Club Foundation, European Climate Foundation, Sunrise Project, League of Conservation Voters Education Fund and EarthJustice received a combined total of $67 million from Wellspring in 2020.

Wellspring did not report funding any of the five in either of the two following years. Instead, each was funded by Sequoia during those next two years, receiving a combined total of more than $87 million.

In all, at least 82 left-leaning climate policy nonprofits received funding from Wellspring for 2020, and then from Sequoia for 2021 or 2022.

So, if the 2020 Wellspring donations to that group of 82 were to be interpreted as the first year of Sequoia being “spun out,” then the combined amount spent on climate policy for the three years from the groups presumably funded by Fred Taylor is more than $450 million.

The largest spending year of the three was the last one, when $172 million of that loot was doled out in 2022 through Sequoia. The IRS has not yet released Sequoia filings for 2023. But if this upward trajectory of total donations continues through the current year, then subsequent IRS reports through 2024 may show the cumulative total to the climate groups to be near or even above $1 billion.

Something like that seems to be the plan. Inside Philanthropy reported that Sequoia was “focusing on climate interventions that will have an impact by 2030, the deadline for the world to halve emissions by the Paris Agreement,” but also “intends to stick around for the long term.”

“It’s not a spend-down institution,” said Christie Ulman, the Sequoia president, according to Inside Philanthropy.

In the next installment, Taylor’s donations appear to have been routed through Twenty-One Holdings LLC, first to the Wellspring Philanthropic Fund and then to the Sequoia Climate Foundation.

Ken Braun

Ken Braun is CRC’s senior investigative researcher and authors profiles for and the Capital Research magazine. He previously worked for several free market policy organizations, spent six…
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